As we age and move on towards our own plans, the times of getting together with our extended families grows thin. Weeks, even months can go by without seeing them. For some, it's even years.
The dynamics of how we live our lives, from the ways we raise our children to how we prepare our meals often evolves away from how we were taught when we were young. Now, for some this is meaningless when you return to your ancestral home. You return to the same old patterns, the same old meals and the same old conversations as a feeling of comfort. It's a feeling of safety.
For the longest time I held by this myself. Returning to my mothers house for Thanksgiving was a great place to just kind of cocoon myself in the chemistry of old. I'd relax, enjoy a traditional meal the way my grandmother taught my mother to do; Turkey, Stuffing, Potatoes and a dozen or so vegetables were always on the table...and I would indulge but do little to contribute myself. There was never any pressure to do so.
For the last few years, I have been changing that. Part of it is the involvement of my wife, herself a fantastic cook. She has encouraged me to be more involved in the cooking process as a true partner and inventor. It's given me a deeper respect for what goes on in the preparation of a large family meal (often 15+ people). I'm no Alton Brown, but I can handle being in the kitchen just fine. Most importantly though, when I'm at my mothers house, I want to spend time with my mother. What better way then to be working side by side with her in the prep of the family meal.
Today, at one point it was my Grandmother, my mother, Melanie and I all working in tandem to get the food on the table. Sharing the load allows each of us to learn, teach, chat and laugh without getting too stressed out. Melanie and I have also injected some new life into the meal. We introduced a brining method for the Turkey last year, which has stuck. Melanie added a Hunter sauce (Mushroom and cream cheese gravy) to the menu this year which seemed to go over well for those who do try new things. Myself, I work out better ways to carve the turkey. It's a work in process.
Next meal we'll likely add something else new. Or maybe we'll inspire somebody else to add something new. It doesn't matter; new is exciting. It creates new conversation and new memories. It adds to the family dynamic, creating special little moments for all to share.
I hope you had as wonderful and safe a Thanksgiving as I did.
October 7, 2012 - 11:09pm
Podcast of the day: Superego Episode 3:12
Music playing while I wrote this: Tony O'Connor - Memento